Tag Archives: California Public Records Act

Remember How I Sued The Highland Park BID And The Lincoln Heights BID In January 2020 Over Their Failures To Produce Public Records? — They Were About To Settle The Case But Then They Flipped Out — Fired Their Sane Lawyers — And Hired Carol Humiston And Her Weirdo Henchie Julie Bachert To Fight The Case! — And My Lawyer — Colleen Flynn — Fought Off Their Aggressively Unhinged Tactics — And Taught Them A Lesson They Shouldn’t Forget But They Probably Will — And They Came Crawling Back Begging To Settle! — Which We Did Yesterday And They’re Paying Flynn And Matthew Strugar — Who Also Helped — Thirty Thousand Dollars In Fees — And Assorted Costs — And They Agreed To Produce Emails On A Schedule — So More News About These Infernal BIDs Quite Soon!

Background: This post follows up on a post from last year, and here’s some useful background from there:

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our old friends at the Highland Park BID but that’s certainly not because I lost interest in them! You’ll recall that in early 2018 they released a really rich set of emails in response to some requests made under the California Public Records Act. These records revealed, among other things, the BID’s complicity in the ongoing hurricane-force gentrification of Highland Park, using tactics like mural erasure and harassment of street vendors. The emails also showed the BID’s creepy Facebook stalking of local antigentrification activists, coordinated with weirdo CD1 staffer Bill Cody.

The post is about my lawsuit against these BIDs. You can read most of the pleadings filed here on Archive.Org as well.

Remember last January? Before all this pandemic insurrection nonsense? Anyway, that’s when I filed a suit against both the Highland Park Business Improvement District and the Lincoln Heights BID1 over their failures to comply with the California Public Records Act. I haven’t written much on it because at first it looked like it was going to settle quickly. The BIDs agreed to produce the records and everything was fine.

Then they fired their lawyers and hired Carol “World’s angriest CPRA lawyer” Humiston’s firm, Bradley & Gmelich, to fight the petition instead. Humiston, of course, has it in for me and is even willing to break the law and the rules of the California State Bar to further her obsessive campaign. She apparently actually believes that the only reason I request records from BIDs is to fuck with them and run up their lawyer bills, and she’s determined to prove this in court.

So these new lawyers, apparently more determined to get at me than to help their clients, aggressively tried to depose me, I guess to get me to admit to my evil anti-BID plans. There’s nothing that my evidence can add to a CPRA case, though. The law specifically states that the requester’s purpose is irrelevant.2 and my lawyer, the incomparable Colleen Flynn, filed a motion for a protective order to stave them off.
Continue reading Remember How I Sued The Highland Park BID And The Lincoln Heights BID In January 2020 Over Their Failures To Produce Public Records? — They Were About To Settle The Case But Then They Flipped Out — Fired Their Sane Lawyers — And Hired Carol Humiston And Her Weirdo Henchie Julie Bachert To Fight The Case! — And My Lawyer — Colleen Flynn — Fought Off Their Aggressively Unhinged Tactics — And Taught Them A Lesson They Shouldn’t Forget But They Probably Will — And They Came Crawling Back Begging To Settle! — Which We Did Yesterday And They’re Paying Flynn And Matthew Strugar — Who Also Helped — Thirty Thousand Dollars In Fees — And Assorted Costs — And They Agreed To Produce Emails On A Schedule — So More News About These Infernal BIDs Quite Soon!

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My Public Records Requests Have Apparently Caused Both LAPD And Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson To Embrace A Kind Of Self-Destructive Paranoid Madness — They Are Randomly Accusing Various Not-Me Requesters Of Being Me — LAPD Has Evidently Put Random People Other Than Me On My “Work Plan” — The Plan Amounts To Not Filling My Requests At All — So Basically LAPD Is Denying Requests From Random People In Order To Take Revenge On Me — Which Is Not Only Illegal — It’s Also Idiotic — And Unsustainable — Did I Ever Mention “The Caine Mutiny”? — It’s A Really Good Movie! — Very Timely! — Very Relevant!


Have you ever seen The Caine Mutiny?1 Humphrey Bogart plays Captain Queeg, who at one point calls in all his ship’s officers at 1 am to interrogate them about some putatively missing strawberries. He forces them to investigate all night and give him a report at 8 am. They can’t find the culprit and tell him so, but he regales them with a long story of how, as a young ensign in 1937, he nabbed a cheese thief on his ship who’d made a duplicate pantry key. He told them that he was sure the same thing had happened with the strawberries on the Caine:2

Now, I’ve worked out a very simple plan. First, we collect every key on this ship and tag it with the name of the owner. Second, we strip all hands to make sure we got all the keys. Third, we test each key on the icebox padlock, and the one that fits will give us the name of the owner.

Humphrey Bogart won an Oscar for his role, and as far as I’m concerned he deserved it just for the way he’s fooling with his damn toast in this scene. Anyway, as you probably know, the Los Angeles Police Department is very, very upset with my use of the California Public Records Act. Their displeasure goes to the very top, as shown by this personal letter I received last Summer from supreme LAPD chieftain Michel Moore.

Despite his blah blah blah about a work plan and handling requests sequentially, what they’ve really done is to stop producing records at all. But they’re somewhat hindered in this project by the fact that Gmail is free and the law doesn’t allow them to inquire too deeply into the identities of requesters.

However, they try, they try, and one of the ways they try, it turns out, is by randomly and wrongly accusing various requesters of being me. Their raving paranoia matches and perhaps exceeds Queeg’s. Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look at this blog comment from the other day:
Continue reading My Public Records Requests Have Apparently Caused Both LAPD And Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson To Embrace A Kind Of Self-Destructive Paranoid Madness — They Are Randomly Accusing Various Not-Me Requesters Of Being Me — LAPD Has Evidently Put Random People Other Than Me On My “Work Plan” — The Plan Amounts To Not Filling My Requests At All — So Basically LAPD Is Denying Requests From Random People In Order To Take Revenge On Me — Which Is Not Only Illegal — It’s Also Idiotic — And Unsustainable — Did I Ever Mention “The Caine Mutiny”? — It’s A Really Good Movie! — Very Timely! — Very Relevant!

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In June 2020 LAPD Took Only 26 Days To Produce 60 Pages Of Michel Moore’s Text Messages In Response To A CPRA Request From Investigative Reporter Aura Bogado — Which Is So Fast It’s Unbelievable — Bogado Attributed Their Speedy And Complete Response To Her Litigious Reputation And Some Specific Phrases She Included In The Request — But We All Know From Experience LAPD Doesn’t Care About That At All — They Get Sued Successfully All The Time — And I’ve Seen No Evidence That They Care How Requests Are Written — It Turns Out That Bryan Lium — Commander Of LAPD’s Legal Affairs Division — Took A Special Interest In Bogado’s Request And Emailed Richard Tefank About Eleventy-Jillion Times To Hurry It Along — Which Is Actually Why It Got Filled Fast — Meanwhile Lium Tells Everyone That Stop LAPD Spying’s Requests Will Just Have To Wait Because They Have To “Balance” Them With Other Requests — Where “Balance” Apparently Means “Ignore Completely”

On June 30, 2020, investigative reporter Aura Bogado tweeted a thread about text messages sent or received by LAPD Chief Michel Moore during the June 2, 2020 meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission. Bogado obtained these on June 29, 2020 as a result of a June 3, 2020 NextRequest filing.1

As you may know, I’ve had some trouble getting the Los Angeles Police Department to even respond to my CPRA requests, let alone to actually produce significant records quickly enough to be useful. So I asked Bogado how she’d done it, but it turned out that she had no idea whatsoever, although she thought she understood. Here’s what she had to say:

I did a standard CPRA to police records; made sure to include why I thought the records existed (Soboroff lifted his phone to the camera at some point) and also included that the request was subject to litigation if I didn’t get a response. I sue, and win, but that’s usually with the federal gov (I cover im/migration nationally) so I think this was part of the motivation to take my request seriously.

Continue reading In June 2020 LAPD Took Only 26 Days To Produce 60 Pages Of Michel Moore’s Text Messages In Response To A CPRA Request From Investigative Reporter Aura Bogado — Which Is So Fast It’s Unbelievable — Bogado Attributed Their Speedy And Complete Response To Her Litigious Reputation And Some Specific Phrases She Included In The Request — But We All Know From Experience LAPD Doesn’t Care About That At All — They Get Sued Successfully All The Time — And I’ve Seen No Evidence That They Care How Requests Are Written — It Turns Out That Bryan Lium — Commander Of LAPD’s Legal Affairs Division — Took A Special Interest In Bogado’s Request And Emailed Richard Tefank About Eleventy-Jillion Times To Hurry It Along — Which Is Actually Why It Got Filled Fast — Meanwhile Lium Tells Everyone That Stop LAPD Spying’s Requests Will Just Have To Wait Because They Have To “Balance” Them With Other Requests — Where “Balance” Apparently Means “Ignore Completely”

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Self Help And The California Public Records Act — The Case Of FilmLA — And Their Weirdly Intransigent Attitude Towards The Law — And A Hacky But Functional Way To Scrape Their Website — Which I Did Over The Last Week Or So — And Now It’s — At Least Theoretically — Possible To Batch Search The Permits

Background: This post follows up on a post from a few days ago, and here’s some useful background from there:

This month Los Angeles activists were forced to think a lot about film permits. First the extraordinary Ktown For All broke what turned into an international story about the City shutting down a COVID test site at Union Station to accommodate a film shoot.

Then less than two weeks later Streetwatch LA member Ian Carr broke the story that an entirely different film company had somehow arranged for a large encampment in front of City Hall East to be swept away in advance of their shoot. Twitter user @publicownedbus also provided valuable info, and then ace Knock LA reporter Cerise Castle also wrote about this incident.1

Recent events have made it clear that we need an effective way to search the content of Los Angeles film permits for names and phone numbers of location managers, locations, and other essential information. Permits are coordinated by an entity called FilmLA. FilmLA is putatively private but is made subject to the California Public Records Act at least by its contract with the City of Los Angeles.2 But FilmLA bossman Paul Audley refuses to comply with the law.

And while I’m not giving up on legal remedies, they take forever and it turns out that it’s not necessary to wait in order to obtain some of the records. In particular, the permits themselves. Audley admits that the permits are subject to the CPRA and they are all in some technical sense available on FilmLA’s website. However, the search is abysmal.

It’s only possible to search on four predetermined fields, which are Permit Number, Company Name, Production Title, and Date of First Activity. If you want other information, like all permits at a given location, you’re out of luck. Not only that, but it’s impossible to search even those fields without being logged in. This excludes search engines from indexing the permits (unless arrangements are made to allow them in, which FilmLA has not done).3

But there’s probably no way to compel these people to let search engines in, even with a lawsuit, so I took matters into my own hands and scraped the site of most of the permits.4 I’m in the process of putting these all on Archive.Org. There are presently more than 45K individual files uploaded but there are over 100GB and it’s taking a while to get them up. The Archive allows search engines to index their site, of course, so eventually all the permits will be searchable on the open internet.
Continue reading Self Help And The California Public Records Act — The Case Of FilmLA — And Their Weirdly Intransigent Attitude Towards The Law — And A Hacky But Functional Way To Scrape Their Website — Which I Did Over The Last Week Or So — And Now It’s — At Least Theoretically — Possible To Batch Search The Permits

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Practical Instructions On How To Obtain Everything You Need From Film Permits On The Day Of Shooting — Even Though FilmLA Chief Bossdude Paul Audley Doesn’t Put Them On The Website Until Two Days After — But There’s A Workaround! — For Instance — That Infamous December 1 Union Station Shoot That Shut Down The COVID Test Site? — The Permit Didn’t Hit The Website Until December 3 But This Method Would Have Let Us Learn — Just For Instance — The Name And Cell Phone Number Of The Location Manager Immediately On December 1


This month Los Angeles activists were forced to think a lot about film permits. First the extraordinary Ktown For All broke what turned into an international story about the City shutting down a COVID test site at Union Station to accommodate a film shoot.

Then less than two weeks later Streetwatch LA member Ian Carr broke the story that an entirely different film company had somehow arranged for a large encampment in front of City Hall East to be swept away in advance of their shoot. Twitter user @publicownedbus also provided valuable info, and then ace Knock LA reporter Cerise Castle also wrote about this incident.1

On December 1, then, I started using the California Public Records Act to investigate. It turns out that FilmLA is a private corporation but their contract makes them subject to the CPRA, so I fired off a request and a couple of days later, after an inordinate amount of pushback from an inordinate number of City offices,2 I received the Union Station permit and wrote a post about it.

In the process of this investigation I ended up learning a lot of interesting things about film permits, how to get copies of them, and what can be learned from them,3 which I thought I’d share with you today!
Continue reading Practical Instructions On How To Obtain Everything You Need From Film Permits On The Day Of Shooting — Even Though FilmLA Chief Bossdude Paul Audley Doesn’t Put Them On The Website Until Two Days After — But There’s A Workaround! — For Instance — That Infamous December 1 Union Station Shoot That Shut Down The COVID Test Site? — The Permit Didn’t Hit The Website Until December 3 But This Method Would Have Let Us Learn — Just For Instance — The Name And Cell Phone Number Of The Location Manager Immediately On December 1

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Today I Filed Yet Another Complaint Against LAPD Detective Kris Tu — Sub-Boss Of Their Public Records Unit — And His Subordinate Thanh Su — For Willfully Violating The California Public Records Act — Read All About It Right Here!


This post is about a complaint I filed just now with LAPD Captain Bryan Lium against Kris Tu and Thanh Su of the Department’s Public Records Unit. If you want to skip straight to it here is the link!

The LAPD let me know recently that they will not comply with the California Public Records Act when it comes to my requests. Which isn’t much of a change, actually. Other than a few months in 2018 when they followed the law they have never complied. It took them over a year to get to my first request to them in 2015 and things have only gotten worse.

But late last year they settled a major CPRA case with the ACLU and part of the agreement required the Department to adopt a policy stating explicitly that LAPD employees, both sworn and nonsworn, were subject to discipline for willful violations of the law. And since they will no longer produce records in response to my requests I’ve been using the time I would have spent reviewing and writing about their records to file complaints against them instead.

In August of this year I filed one against LAPD CPRA Sub-boss Kris Tu and his supervisor, Lieutenant Marla Ciuffetelli. Then another against Ciuffetelli alone. A few weeks ago I filed my third, this against Tu again and also Discovery Analyst Masoomeh Cheraghi.

And today I filed my fourth! This one’s against Tu and Analyst Thanh Su. There are two issues involved here. First their refusal to state which exemptions they claim justify their redactions and withholdings and second their refusal to state the name of the person who determined to apply the exemptions. Read the transcription below for the details and stay tuned to see what happens!1
Continue reading Today I Filed Yet Another Complaint Against LAPD Detective Kris Tu — Sub-Boss Of Their Public Records Unit — And His Subordinate Thanh Su — For Willfully Violating The California Public Records Act — Read All About It Right Here!

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We Now Know That The LAPD Lied To A Whole Series Of Public Records Requesters About Facial Recognition — They’ve Been Lying About It For Years — And They Lied About It To Me Too — I Recently Discovered Proof That LAPD Discovery Had Records Responsive To My Request In Their Actual Possession At The Time That LAPD Discovery Boss Kris Tu Told Me There Weren’t Any — And The LAPD Department Manual CPRA Section Requires LAPD To Comply — And States Explicitly That If They Willfully Withhold Records They May Be Subject To Punishment — Which Is Why Today I Filed A Complaint Against Tu — And Masoomeh Cheraghi — A Civilian Analyst Who Had One Of The Responsive Records In Her Possession When Tu Illegally Closed My Request — And You Can Read It Here!

NOTE: This post is about a complaint I filed today against a couple of LAPD CPRA staff and that’s a link straight to it if you want to skip the post.

In August 2019 I learned that LAPD used facial recognition technology to, among other random things, identify homeless people in Chinatown on behalf of outlaw Chinatown BID Boss George Yu. In September 2019 I asked LAPD for records relating to their use of facial recognition. They stalled and stalled and stalled until June 2020 when Kris Tu, a detective in charge of LAPD’s CPRA unit, told me that there were no responsive records.

Which, as was very recently revealed, was certainly not the whole truth. Furthermore, I recently obtained this email chain involving LAPD CPRA analyst Masoomeh Cheraghi. She responded in May 2020 to a February 2020 email announcing various LAPD facial recognition policies, announced that she was working on my request,1 and was told by LAPD staff that there was in fact a Detective Bureau Notice on the subject.

However, she failed to produce either the email or the Notice, although both are clearly responsive to my request. Not only that, but in June 2020 Kris Tu told me explicitly that there were no responsive records despite the fact that Cheraghi, his subordinate, provably knew of at least two of them and had at least one of them in her possession.
Continue reading We Now Know That The LAPD Lied To A Whole Series Of Public Records Requesters About Facial Recognition — They’ve Been Lying About It For Years — And They Lied About It To Me Too — I Recently Discovered Proof That LAPD Discovery Had Records Responsive To My Request In Their Actual Possession At The Time That LAPD Discovery Boss Kris Tu Told Me There Weren’t Any — And The LAPD Department Manual CPRA Section Requires LAPD To Comply — And States Explicitly That If They Willfully Withhold Records They May Be Subject To Punishment — Which Is Why Today I Filed A Complaint Against Tu — And Masoomeh Cheraghi — A Civilian Analyst Who Had One Of The Responsive Records In Her Possession When Tu Illegally Closed My Request — And You Can Read It Here!

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Internal Police Commission Calendars Show Commissioners Regularly Attending Social And Ceremonial Events With LAPD Brass — And Meeting Very Regularly — Very Privately With Charlie Beck — Michel Moore — Other LAPD Command Staff — With Private Meals At The Pacific Dining Car — Langer’s — YXTA — They Were Briefed On LAPD Facial Recognition In 2018 — Even Though The Department Publicly Lied And Denied Their Use Of It Until September 2020 — They Have Scheduled Breakfasts Tuesdays At 8 AM — So Many Commissioners Have So Many Private Meetings With Michel Moore That Brown Act Violations Seem Unavoidable — And More!

NOTE: This post is about Police Commission Calendars from 2013 through 2020, and they’re here on Archive.Org.

The Los Angeles Police Commission theoretically oversees the Los Angeles Police Department via powers enumerated in the City Charter at §570 et seq. Although these powers are pretty broad, e.g. they include the power to recommend that the Chief be fired subject to approval of Council, the Commission doesn’t do much with them at all, as you surely know if you’ve ever attended one of their meetings. They act more like collegial collaborators with the police than any respectable oversight body ought to do.

You’ll have seen that the only people in the room who’ve spent any time at all thinking about police oversight are members of the public there to give comment. The Commission itself is overly friendly with the police and exceedingly hostile towards any members of the public who are not also overly friendly with the police. And it turns out that this impression of unseemly collaboration between overseers and overseen is also accurate outside public view.

The Commissioners have regular private meetings with the Chief and other members of LAPD’s command staff, sometimes over a meal. For instance on January 17, 2018 Steve Soboroff and another person had lunch with Beck at YXTA, a gentrification bar on Skid Row which apparently has good carne asada. Soboroff and Beck met regularly before Beck retired, often at YXTA but sometimes at Langer’s and elsewhere. On March 6, 2018 Soboroff had breakfast with Dominic Choi at the Pacific Dining Car.
Continue reading Internal Police Commission Calendars Show Commissioners Regularly Attending Social And Ceremonial Events With LAPD Brass — And Meeting Very Regularly — Very Privately With Charlie Beck — Michel Moore — Other LAPD Command Staff — With Private Meals At The Pacific Dining Car — Langer’s — YXTA — They Were Briefed On LAPD Facial Recognition In 2018 — Even Though The Department Publicly Lied And Denied Their Use Of It Until September 2020 — They Have Scheduled Breakfasts Tuesdays At 8 AM — So Many Commissioners Have So Many Private Meetings With Michel Moore That Brown Act Violations Seem Unavoidable — And More!

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Are Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Gang Tattoos Public Records? — And Therefore Subject To The Public Records Act? — I Don’t See Why Not! — Although I’m Not A Lawyer And Could Easily Be Wrong — But I Could Easily Be Right!

The FBI is investigating tattooed gangs of LA County Sheriff’s deputies and a suit filed by a former deputy includes allegations of gangs with matching tattoos controlling the Compton Station. Thus the idea that LASD gang tattoos may be subject to the California Public Records Act is in the air! So I thought that I would give you my amateurish and decidedly nonlawyerly take on it. The starting point for any such inquiry is the CPRA at §6253(a), where we read that:

Public records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the state or local agency and every person has a right to inspect any public record, except as hereafter provided. Any reasonably segregable portion of a record shall be available for inspection by any person requesting the record after deletion of the portions that are exempted by law.

This is very clear. If they’re public records they must be open to inspection unless they’re exempt.1 If Sheriff gang tattoos are public records, then we can look at them! So are they?
Continue reading Are Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Gang Tattoos Public Records? — And Therefore Subject To The Public Records Act? — I Don’t See Why Not! — Although I’m Not A Lawyer And Could Easily Be Wrong — But I Could Easily Be Right!

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CD15 PR Flack Amy Gebert Told Me In 2019 That It Would Take Her 21 Months To Produce 10,000 Pages Of Emails — Where “Produce” Means To Print 200 Pages On Paper Every Six Months — And Then Scan Them To Gigantic Unsearchable PDFs In Random Order — And To Deny That CD15 Is Able To Produce Emails Any Other Way — Which Actually Is A Lie Since ITA Will Produce Any Quantity Of Emails In MBOX Format For Any City Department That Asks Them To — And Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson Apparently Advised Her To Lie In Precisely This Way — I Have Neither Time Nor Capacity To Sue The City For Every One Of Its Hundreds Of CPRA Violations — And That Doesn’t Help Against Lawyers Anyway — So I Filed A Complaint With The Ethics Commission — Against Both Of These Miscreants — For Misusing Their Positions To Create A Private Disadvantage For Me — A Violation Of LAMC 49.5.5(A) — And You Can Get A Copy Of The Complaint Right Here!

TL;DR I filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission against CD15 staffer Amy Gebert and Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson and you can get a copy of it right here.

In June 2019 I asked Joe Buscaino’s PR flack Amy Gebert for some emails. After wasting three months on bad-faith arguments she agreed to produce 10,000 pages by April 2021. In March 2020 she produced the first two hundred1 pages, printed out on paper, in an untidy stack, and told me I’d have to pay $0.10 per page to obtain copies.

Then earlier this month she produced another few hundred pages, many not even responsive, although this time she printed them on paper and scanned them to PDFs for me.2 When I asked her to follow the law and produce them as MBOX files she lied and told me that CD15 didn’t have the technical capacity to do that. Bethelwel Wilson of the City Attorney’s Office apparently told her to use that excuse.
Continue reading CD15 PR Flack Amy Gebert Told Me In 2019 That It Would Take Her 21 Months To Produce 10,000 Pages Of Emails — Where “Produce” Means To Print 200 Pages On Paper Every Six Months — And Then Scan Them To Gigantic Unsearchable PDFs In Random Order — And To Deny That CD15 Is Able To Produce Emails Any Other Way — Which Actually Is A Lie Since ITA Will Produce Any Quantity Of Emails In MBOX Format For Any City Department That Asks Them To — And Deputy City Attorney Bethelwel Wilson Apparently Advised Her To Lie In Precisely This Way — I Have Neither Time Nor Capacity To Sue The City For Every One Of Its Hundreds Of CPRA Violations — And That Doesn’t Help Against Lawyers Anyway — So I Filed A Complaint With The Ethics Commission — Against Both Of These Miscreants — For Misusing Their Positions To Create A Private Disadvantage For Me — A Violation Of LAMC 49.5.5(A) — And You Can Get A Copy Of The Complaint Right Here!

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